If there is one politician in B.C. who is quickly becoming less popular than Toronto’s Rob Ford or Alberta’s Alison Redford, one doesn’t have to look too far south to find the answer. Our neighbouring MLA, the Honourable Bill Bennett, seems to have the knack for infuriating many people all at once, a talent that’s got provincial media hot on his heels.
His political career over the last two years has been highly visible — one only has to look for the long line of fires in need of constant putting out. His appointment as Minister of Community, Sports and Cultural Development in 2012 led directly to Christy Clark’s approval (this by her own account when she visited the valley in 2012 for a Women’s Hall event — that he dropped the file on her desk and said it needed her attention) of the Jumbo Glacier Resort Master Development Plan, which so far has led to a highly publicized First Nation lawsuit protesting the plan, unpopular provincial legislation giving the non-existent resort mountain resort municipality status, a UBCM resolution protesting this legislation, another lawsuit protesting this legislation, and, most recently, an embittered flare up in the Provincial Legislature about a $1 million grant the provincial government is making available to nascent municipality, a grant that’s raising the ire of many in British Columbia — evidenced by the number of recent headlines dedicated to this development.
NDP MLA for Nelson Creston, Michelle Mungal’s scathing accusations that the resort is a background deal for Bennett’s buddies aren’t helping his public image, nor have his comments in relation to the Agricultural Land Reserve in the last week when he was quoted as saying: “I get a kick out of the 100-mile diet except, where I live, you’d have to eat hay.” (see page 14 for the local reaction). And if that wasn’t bad enough, under Bennett’s watch as the Minister of Energy and Mines, BC Hydro’s rates are set to go up 28 per cent over the next five years and the biggest star in his portfolio, the New Prosperity Mine project, has been axed by the Harper Government due to its adverse environmental effects (come again?).
It comes as no surprise that a politician who takes out full page ads in the Cranbrook Daily Townsman supporting grizzly bear trophy hunters supports building a resort in what’s considered by local First Nations the sacred territory for the grizzly bear spirit, but to tout the success of a project that our tar sands loving’ federal government won’t even support? How many more gaffes will it take before it’s bye bye Bennett?